We have all heard of the horror stories about people having their wisdom teeth being removed. We have also seen many silly videos of the aftermath of the procedure. If you don’t have any wisdom teeth, count yourself lucky. 85% of people need to have their wisdom teeth extracted. There are many reasons as to why they need to be removed such as overcrowding, impaction, or sinus issues. Overcrowding can undo the effects of orthodontic treatments such as braces. Lack of space in the mouth can lead to impaction and misalignment. Impaction can lead to tooth decay, damage to oral structures and other teeth, and a cyst may develop around the impaction which can lead to jawbone or tooth damage. Sinuses help us breathe easier and having wisdom teeth, which are close to our sinuses, can give us headaches or sinus infections.
So, who can remove wisdom teeth? While a general dentist can perform the procedure, an oral surgeon is trained to extract wisdom teeth using IV sedation. IV sedation is when the dentist injects a needle into their patient’s arm that delivers the sedative into the bloodstream. This type of sedation is ideal because it helps the patient relax during the procedure and it is best if they experience dental anxiety. As I mentioned earlier, an oral surgeon deals with more wisdom tooth extraction cases than a general dentist. Oral surgeons train four to six years after dental school and a majority of that training is removing wisdom teeth.
So, you go to your general dentist and you find out you have one or more wisdom teeth. What happens next? Depending on how much room you have in your mouth, you might not need to have them removed. However, if you don’t have a lot of room, you can be sent to an oral surgeon to have them taken out. Let’s take a look at how the procedure will look like.
Prior to your appointment, you should have cleaned your teeth and not ate or drank anything six hours before the extraction.
- Before your procedure, you will receive anesthesia to numb the area that will be worked on.
- If you feel anxious, you can receive IV sedation to feel at ease.
- If the tooth has come through the gum, a small incision is made on the gum to access the tooth.
- If the tooth has fully erupted, they may be able to pull the tooth.
- The oral surgeon may have to cut the tooth into smaller parts to easily remove it from the gum. You will feel slight pressure as the doctor is trying to widen the tooth socket by moving the tooth back and forth to make it easier for the tooth to come out.
- The duration of the procedure depends on your case. It will take relatively longer if you have more than one tooth being extracted.
After the Procedure
- If the dentist made an incision, they will use dissolving stitches to seal the gum.
- They will then place a gauze over the extraction and tell you to apply pressure by biting down on the gauze for an hour. Doing this will form a blood clot in the empty tooth socket which is part of the healing process.
- Your mouth and tongue will be numb for several hours after the procedure, but it’s normal.
- Pain may appear once the anesthesia wears off, so be sure to take your prescribed medication and you may want to apply ice for the swelling.
- You will need to have someone drive you home if you receive general anesthesia or IV sedation.
What to Avoid After the Procedure
- Drinking alcohol or smoking
- Rinsing your mouth out with liquid as it can dislodge the blood clot
- Drinking hot liquids
- Vigorous physical activity
Overall, the process of removing wisdom teeth isn’t the worst. After about seven days, things should be back to normal. Just hope you don’t get your dopey video posted!
Written by: Eveline Chaidez